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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, November 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM

If you’ve been slow to get up to speed in the new college basketball season, the annual Big 10-ACC Challenge that begins Monday night will provide a great opportunity for students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping to jump in with both feet.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you bet blindly. Far from it! These telecasts will give you a great educational resource for studying the most important teams from two of the most important college basketball conferences. Your homework…

*Evaluate Power Ratings and Computer Ratings

*Study the talent matchups

*Watch the games live or on DVR

*Read the boxscores

Maybe you’ll see something in the Power Rating or matchup assignment that will inspire a Las Vegas bet. If you did well last year in this sport, that’s fine. Be conservative and prudent…there’s nothing wrong with making a value bet when Vegas oddsmakers are still learning the ropes themselves. If not, you’ll still be well-suited to make smart decisions the next time everyone takes the court this weekend and then all through December and beyond.

If you don’t have time to study all the games, or the interest in checking out Northwestern/Virginia Tech or Penn State/Boston College…that’s fine. There are some GREAT matchups you can focus on more intently.

 

TUESDAY

#12 Virginia at Ohio State (Virginia had been higher before an upset loss)

#2 Maryland at #9 North Carolina (ditto for the Heels)

 

WEDNESDAY

Louisville at #3 Michigan State

Wisconsin at Syracuse

#13 Indiana at #6 Duke

Wow…so many great programs going head-to-head. And, I left out a few ranked teams like #15 Miami, #16 Purdue, and #17 Notre Dame. You can’t always trust early season media polls. I prefer using my own Power Ratings. If you haven’t had time to build your own yet, I’d suggest using Jeff Sagarin of USA Today or Ken Pomeroy of kenpom.com. I think we can all be confident that the teams I listed above will either be very important in their conference and national races…or will be making headlines because they’re NOT important and the locals are wondering why. Those are the games you MUST watch if you’re serious about betting this sport through the 2015-16 season!

Some quick general tips for handicapping these games:

*Don’t worry so much about all the media hype you’ve been hearing about the 30-second shot clock. It’s too early for sure to know what effect it’s having on the game. You can assume that smart head coaches will take advantage, while dumb ones won’t. Hopefully you’re already in the habit of backing smart coaches vs. dumb coaches anyway!

*Do pay attention to early season results at neutral sites or on the road. Those are much better tests than home wins over cupcakes. We know that these Big 10-ACC games are called pretty close to the vest…meaning that it’s rare to see blatantly obvious home cooking from the refs under such a big spotlight. Many of these are going to feel like neutral court games relatively speaking. Strong visitors won’t be hamstrung. Hosts who haven’t impressed so far will probably keep struggling even on their home courts against non-cupcakes. The QUICKEST way for handicappers to get ready for these games is to study what each team has done straight up and ATS away from home so far this season.

*Do pay attention to experience at the point guard position. That’s arguably the single biggest factor right now during the transition to the faster shot clock. Good point guards won’t have any trouble creating looks for their teammates. Inexperienced point guards will find the clock to be a “sixth defender” in a way that’s going to cause turnovers and bad looks. Once you’ve studied early straight up and ATS results away from home, check on the career stats of the starting point guard.

*My final bit of homework for you is to study the markets. The general public doesn’t bet much college basketball in late November or early December…even in high profile games like this. And, if they do bet, oddsmakers don’t give their square opinions much weight. If you see any big line movements, those are caused by Wise Guys who matter. You can figure out how the smartest bettors see the teams just by reading line moves off the openers.

If you’d like some help betting the baskets before football resumes in a few days, KELSO STURGEON’s best bets can always be purchased right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. With college football winding down, this is a great time to put basketball in your portfolio!

See you again in the middle of the week, as we gear up for the college football conference championship games and more great NFL. The Dean of Sports Handicapping appreciates your attendance and hard work. Hopefully you weren’t distracted by Thanksgiving festivities, black Friday, and even cyber-Monday. Think about WINNING EVERY DAY! That’s how you can become a professional wagerer here in Las Vegas.

 

Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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